Photo by Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com
This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. Heading into Friday’s dual between Minnesota and Ohio State, most saw the 141-pound clash between number 11 Tommy Thorn (Minnesota) and sixth-ranked Joey McKenna (Ohio State) as a chance for the Buckeye to exact some revenge on the Gopher. You see, last spring at the NCAA tournament in St. Louis, McKenna, who has finished third in the country in 2016, was upended by Thorn in the round of 16. Joey would fall again in the round of 12 while Thorn would become an All-American, finishing eighth. After one period, the vengeance storyline was on schedule with the undefeated McKenna leading 2-1. However, someone forgot to tell Thorn that this wasn’t his match. Starting the second period on top, the junior barely hung on to McKenna early, clinging to an ankle on the edge after a wild scramble. Then, on the next re-start, Thorn countered a roll attempt by his opponent for four nearfall, giving him a stunning 5-2 lead. If that weren’t enough, he did it again, in a similar manner, with less than 30 seconds to go in the second frame, getting a full period ride out and building a 9-2 advantage. An escape, takedown, and riding time point in the third made it official as Thorn earned bonus points, majoring McKenna, 13-3!
College wrestling isn’t a sport where you get to rest on a big win for long, though. Thorn and Minnesota were right back at it Sunday against Mike Carr and Illinois. Carr is a dangerous freshman that upset 10th ranked Chad Red (Nebraska) last week, the same Red who beat Thorn on the opening weekend of the season. Minnesota trailed in the dual, 12-8, with four bouts remaining by the time Tommy took the mat, with Isaiah Martinez (Illinois) looming as a heavy favorite at 165. The Gophers needed to take 141, 149, and 157 to win the dual. Thorn built a big lead early, earning more nearfall, then stemmed the tide of a Carr comeback attempt to win it, 11-6. When Steve Bleise (149) and Jake Short (157) won as well, it was enough to propel the Golden Gophers to a 17-14 victory.
Congratulations to Tommy Thorn (Minnesota), TOM’s College Wrestler of the Week!